Roscommon coast into Hastings Final

Hastings Cup  Roscommon 2-14 Leitrim 0-6 Roscommon secured qualification to the final of this year’s Hastings Cup final with a hugely impressive if somewhat fatuous victory over Leitrim last Saturday afternoon.  James McKeague, Ronan Brady, Conor Devaney, Enda Kenny, Paul Garvey, and Colm Garvey played masterfully for Roscommon on a day when Donie Shine marked his return to the inter-county scene with a goal and a point.   A splendid and hugely entertaining first-half performance utterly overpowered hapless Leitrim and the game was over as a contest by the end of the opening half-hour. Leitrim’s defence was not able to withstand sustained Roscommon attacking throughout the opening quarter and, with Conor Devaney on song at the top of the right and Enda Kenny imperiously dominating at full-forward, the away team led by twelve points at half-time.    The game was over by half-time and everybody – players, officials, and spectators – knew it. A ripple of satisfaction ran through the crowd of Roscommon supporters on the 40-minute mark when Donie Shine was introduced as a substitute. Their happiness was enhanced by his conversion of a free in the 49th minute; the same player’s goal nine minutes from the end provoked the largest round of applause of the day.   The polished performance of the Roscommon full-back line was also well received on Saturday by Roscommon supporters: Michael King executed his duties competently at full-back and Ronan Brady sent a strong message to John Maughan with a tremendous performance at corner-back. Ronan Martin’s endeavours at left corner-forward met with approval too: it is hoped that this audaciously talented player will emerge this summer as one of the leading scoring forwards in the county. Midfield impressed additionally: Michael Killilea used his vast reserves of physical strength to muscle his way out of trouble on several occasions; while James McKeague underscored his tremendous strengths as a footballer by dominating that section of the field throughout.  The play: Roscommon began explosively. Conor Devaney, who was withdrawn at half-time in advance of Sunday’s senior game with Mayo, scored three points in the opening seven minutes. An Emmet Mahon free and a score from Shane Foley preceded Enda Kenny’s goal in the 15th minute. Paul Garvey, Kenny, Ronan Martin, and Kevin Higgins followed this up with points.   A dramatic and incisive run by David Flynn led to Ronan Martin’s second score in the 25th minute. David O’Gara then fisted over a point after a move involving Ronan Brady and Higgins. Points from Devaney and Enda Kenny brought the half to a conclusion.   Two early second half-points from Leitrim put a veneer of respectability on the scoreline. These were cancelled out by efforts from Kenny and Shine. Shine’s goal in the 51st minute widened the gap to 15 points, and Paul Garvey brought the game to a conclusion with a point in injury-time. Roscommon: Mark Miley; Ronan Brady, Michael King, Oliver Harney; Niall Grehan, David Flynn, Colm Garvey; James McKeague, Michael Killilea; David O’Gara (0-1), Paul Garvey (0-2), Kevin Higgins (0-1); Conor Devaney (0-4, 0-2 frees), Enda Kenny (1-3, 0-2 frees), Ronan Martin (0-2). Subs used: Alan O’Hara for Devaney (half-time); Donal Ward for Grehan (half-time); Donal Shine (1-1, 0-1 free) for Kenny (40 mins); Ronan Gavin for Harney (43 mins); Robert Gaynor for O’Gara (45 mins); John Donnelly for Colm Garvey (50 mins); Gearoid Cunniffe for Martin (55 mins); Eanna Ryan for McKeague (55 mins). Leitrim: Dougie Butler; Mark Mitchell, Dermot Reynolds, James Campbell; Stephen O’Hara, Paul Ellis, Darren McLoughlin; James McGreal, Conor Sheridan; Stephen Gilhooly, Shane Foley (0-1, free), Ray Mulvey (0-2); Kevin Conlon, Emmet Mahon (0-3, frees), Declan Foley. Subs used: Trevor Farrell for Ellis (19 mins); Kieran O’Flynn for Conlon (half time); James McWeeney for Foley (50 mins); Jason Conroy for McLoughlin (50 mins). Player of the match James McKeague (Roscommon) This player performed remarkably on Saturday. McKeague matures as a player with every performance.